"I AM MORDECHAI VANUNU. I'M PROUD AND HAPPY TO DO WHAT I DID."
With these words to the world, Israel's captive declared his freedom today, after 18 years of "cruel and barbaric" treatment in prison for telling the truth about Israel's secret nuclear arsenal
At 11 am, Vanunu walked out the door into Shikma prison's entry yard. A roar erupted from hundreds of demonstrators outside the locked main gate. Supporters at the gate were jostled by detractors behind, some shouting "Kill Vanunu!"
Moving deliberately past the press, surrounded and trailed by assorted officials and guards, Vanunu walked to the gate. Holding both hands high with the signs of victory and peace, he stepped up, onto the bars to see and acknowledge his supporters.
His brothers Asher and Meir, and Meir's young son Luca, had accompanied Vanunu out the door, and rejoined him as he returned to the forest of cameras and microphones.
Vanunu made a statement in English. I have no more secrets to tell; I want to leave Israel but they are restricting me. My treatment was cruel and barbaric; I was punished hard because I am became a Christian. I am a symbol of survival of the human spirit of freedom. I don't want to harm Israel. Open the Dimona reactor for inspection. I want to go to the United States and marry and have a life.
Vanunu then responded to questions for several minutes as Meir nudged him to quit repeatedly. Given the extreme restrictions placed on Vanunu's actions, Meir looked concerned that his brother might talk himself back into prison.
Asked about being a hero, Vanunu replied, "All those who stood behind me and who supported me for 18 years are the heroes."
Vanunu made a point to speak of his kidnapping in Italy, and to say that a photo of the woman reported to be "Cindy" was not the female Mossad agent who lured him to Rome in September 1986.
And he told the press, "I want President Bush, and Tony Blair, Gerhardt Schroeder, and Putin to [work] for my release from Israel."
Before getting into a car, Mordechai Vanunu said he was going to St. George's Anglican Church in Jerusalem to give thanks to God.
Actions to Take
These restrictions on Vanunu's freedom are intolerable. They abuse his human
rights to the point of endangering his life.
London, United Kingdom